Magical Realism, Writing, Fiction, Politics, Haiku, Books

domingo, febrero 20, 2011

Cuba's Celebration Of Books: Can We Have One In The US?

This morning's NY Times brings news (in English) of the Havana International Book Fair.

Wouldn't it be just wonderful to have something like this, say in NYC?

"This fair is oriented toward the reader ... as a chance to acquire books and have a dialogue with the authors, both Cubans and foreigners," organizer Edel Morales told The Associated Press.

"It is a notable difference to others in the world where people rarely attend," he said. "Here it is the people who make the fair." ...

The absence of a "professional segment" of meetings between critics, large publishing houses and other experts is one of its shortcomings, Morales acknowledged.

And the prices in Havana are nothing like New York:

...Yadriana Torres, 20, wanted books on beauty and massage, which she is studying.

"The problem is that they are expensive, because the most interesting in my field are sold in foreign currency," Torres said. The book that caught her eye cost 25 convertible pesos, or $27 — more than the average monthly salary in Cuba.

Reyes was headed for a pavilion that offered mostly local books in the local currency, a peso that is worth a little under 5 cents. Torres was lined up for one that sells in "convertible pesos," which are worth just over a dollar.

Many local books are made of modest paper, simple printing and soft, rustic binding, and they usually are heavily subsidized.

A good example is one of the most anticipated items of this year's fair: "The Man Who Loved Dogs," by Cuban writer Leonardo Padura, published last year by Spanish publisher Tusquets Editores. It sells for $24 elsewhere in the world, but islanders were able to buy it for just 30 Cuban pesos ($1.40) when it went on sale this month.

$1.40? In other words, the price on for a used paperback before shipping? I'd buy happily go to a fair to buy new books-- exciting, well written ones-- that were cheaply manufactured.

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